Gibson. Fender, Martin.
These are well known guitar manufacturers, but have you ever heard of Duane Calkins? He's a shop teacher at Buljan Middle in Roseville and he's helped produced more than 5,400 guitars.
Calkins calls the program "Wood Shop Rocks."
"It's all about the tool set," Calkins said. "Not so much about the guitar because that is the hook obviously."
His 12 and 13-year-old students go through the entire guitar-building process. That means designing, cutting, sanding, painting, and electrical wiring.
Calkins holds his student's guitars to high standards. Many are works of art. Even well-known musicians like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Sammy Hagar have a few of the shop class's guitars in their collection.
"I want these kids to learn that working with their hands and using tools is a respectful, amazing way to make a living," Calkins said.
The shop has a deep passion for teaching woodworking skills. Calkins has been teaching for 25 years and on any given day, he has 30 kids in his class.
"The kids keep me going," he said.
There is a special bond between Calkins and his students. Last year, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and his students supported him through treatment.
"I was out eight weeks," Calkins said. "It was great to get back to them let me tell you that,"
After his recovery, the whole class presented Calkins' doctor with a guitar.
A big part of what Calkins teaches is kindness and overcoming fear.
"Some kids are a little stand-offish about the chop saw," Calkins said, adding he relates scary shop tools to life. In his class, all the students learn to overcome their fears of the machines together. "I hope the kids start to understand that loving each other and doing the right thing is way more important than being aggressive."
Calkins' shop class is fully funded by donations. He says the guitar building process has inspired many of Calkins' students to continue woodworking. Some have even started bands with their guitars.
"It teaches them pride," Calkins said.
The one thing he doesn't teach in his shop class, however, is how to make music.
"I have a love for guitars but I can't play."
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